Ah, life in the Broomstick Ghetto.
In the days since Mother Night, I've several times caught myself wandering: Why are all these people still running around?
Then I remember.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again.
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
2016 was a difficult year in Pagan quotes. It has been a year of radical change. It included painful losses of beloved musicians and actors. It has seen the international stage struggle with surprising and potentially world-changing transformations in the status quo. Marginalized communities feel threatened and unsure of the future.
Growing up, my mother used to have white candles in the every window at Christmas time. I remember loving how it looked. Our traditions was different from most of the other people I know.
Christmas eve my siblings and I went to the barn with my father. Cows were milked, fed, tended. None of us could go to the house. We weren't allowed to go outside to play. We all had to stay in the barn while the chores were being done. My mother stayed in the house. As an adult, I know she was prepping the house, gifts, and stockings for us. As a child I thought it was magical....
This Winter Solstice, I suggest getting in touch with your shadow side. This is the season to become introspective – and with the weather often urging us to spend more time indoors – this is the perfect time to look inward.
Brew some good spiced herbal tea and burn some frankincense and myrrh incense on your altar. Light red and green candles and turn off the lights. Get in a comfy spot and slow your breathing. I have found the best way to completely relax is to first contract, then very slowly release all of the muscles in your body, starting with your head and working your way down to your toes.
Sit cross-legged or lie in the corpse position on a yoga matt on the floor. Start with scrunching up your facial muscles, furrowing your brow. Then relax your face in slow motion. Do the same with your shoulders, hunching them up. Tighten your arms off the floor and make your hands into fists, then release down the length of your arms, starting with your shoulders, and unfurl each of your fingers, one by one. Repeat the exercise with your chest muscles, stomach and lower belly (these Navel and Root Chakras can store an awful lot of stress, so take extra time to release the tension here if necessary). Tighten your legs all the way down to curling your toes under, and very gradually relax these muscles as well.
To clear your mind of tedious recurring thoughts and worries, concentrate on breathing in deeply through your nose, letting your diaphragm fill and let go while taking your time. Be sure to keep the deep breaths coming from your belly, not up in your chest. Count down backwards from 20. Repeat several times, until you feel your mind clear and open.
When you feel ready, meditate on your shadow self. What are the sides of yourself that you keep hidden? Could any of them be positive that you are hiding from the rest of the world out of fear, or any other reason? Whether it is something really adventurous – like trying downhill skiing for the first time, or simply attending a community event you've been curious about – give yourself permission to explore that. Think about the ways you could nudge yourself out of your comfort zone, and discover one of your hidden shadow selves more fully. When you've settled on one that particularly speaks to you, resolve to act on it between now and the new year.
Send an image of yourself participating in and enjoying this activity out to the universe, thank the Goddesses and Gods of your choice, and when you are ready, carefully roll up to a standing position. Gather a bit of icy snow from outside and sprinkle it in the candles to put them out. Drink your tea and experience gratitude. Peace.
"The winter solstice happens in nature around us. But it also happens inside of us, in our souls. It can happen inside of us is summer or winter, spring or fall. In the dark place of our soul, we carry secret wishes, pains, frustrations, loneliness, fears, regrets, worries. Darkness is not something to be afraid of. Sometimes we go to the dark place of our soul, where we can find safety and comfort. In the dark place in our soul we can find rest and rejuvenation. In the dark place of our soul we can find balance. And when we have rested, and been comforted, and restored, we can return from the dark place in our soul to the world of light and new possibilities."...
I've talked before about the names the ancient Minoans used for their gods, here and here, and the difficulties of trying to figure out what those original names were. All we really have to go on is the administrative texts written in Linear B by the Myceneans (or their Minoan scribes). So all that information is filtered through the lens of the Mycenaean Greeks. Case in point: Dionysus.
He's very apropos for today - Winter Solstice - since this is his birthday in the Minoan sacred calendar, when he is born to the great mother goddess Rhea in her cave at sunrise. If you want to view the Minoan pantheon in terms of hierarchy, you'd have to say Rhea is at the top (at least, of the earthbound and Underworld gods - the ocean goddess Posidaeja and the cosmic goddess Ourania could be considered to be "above" her but that's another blog post)....
The Solstice is upon us and the chill of Winter is reaching deeply into bone. This year, in particular, is one that has tested the boundaries of cold and feeling isolated in a vast tundra of unknowing”ness”. Things change from season to season and in the never ending cycle that is life itself, Gaia remains steadfast and strong in offering up her body as our home and our refuge as Her fires burn brightly.
Even though I know this to be true, the memory of her fires fades as the Light of the Solstice returns and Summer takes hold. But now, this is the time of remembering as the nights have grown longer and the cold seeps in, and I feel a chill that cannot be heated by physical warmth. This is a cold that holds the space of awaiting the stoking of the inner fires that resonate with that of Gaia and fuel the yearning, to once again, be held in her embrace....